INTERVIEW: Moses Boyd (WCoM Extravaganza, 20th Nov, 229 TheVenue, EFG LJF)

Moses Boyd. Photo credit: Melody McLaren

Drummer Moses Boyd recently won the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ 2014 Young Jazz Musician award. The finalists from that competition will be re-assembled to appear in the EFG London Jazz Festival, at a WCoM Extravaganza at 229 TheVenue in Great Portland Street on Thursday 20th November. Steve Plumb interviewed him:

LondonJazz News: Tell us a little about yourself.

Moses Boyd: Well, I was brought up in the Lewisham area of South East London and I went to a large comprehensive school in Catford. My parents were not especially musical and I, like so many other young kids in our area, was into skateboarding, football, basketball etc. My brother played a bit of guitar and I dabbled with guitar, piano and saxophone including getting Grade 3 on the euphonium!

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When I was about thirteen years old, I had my first drum lessons with Bobby Dodsworth who was the peripatetic drum teacher at my school. I continued having lessons with Bobby until I left school.

LJN:What was Bobby teaching you?

MB: I was learning snare drum stuff as well as general kit playing. But, looking back, Bobby was showing me Tony Williams’ style of playing as well as other jazz masters. But to be honest, a lot of the subtleties of what Bobby was showing me were going over my head. I “got” the technical side, but not the nuances that Tony, Elvin etc. were noted for.

LJN: So you built on this foundation, as you got older?

MB: Absolutely; and I still am! However, by the time that I was fourteen years old,I was spending all my school-breaks in the Music Block practicing. I was doing no socializing whatsoever! Drums were my priority. But it was not being “flashy” that was important to me. No, even at that age, I was getting into Steve Gadd, Vinnie Collaiuta, even John Bonham! This was serious study.

In my mid teens I started to attend out-of-school projects like the Roundhouse Workshop in Camden and the Weekend Arts Centre in Belsize Park. This exposed me to other young musicians who were playing jazz.

LJN So from school you went on to Trinity to study to degree level?

MB: Yes. It was at Trinity that I met pianist Sam James and later, sax player Phil Meadows who I met on the Trinity post-graduate jazz course. Both Sam and Phil were fellow finalists in the Worshipful Company’s young jazz musician award.

LJN: How did you approach the idea of “competing” on the Stand at Pizza Express Dean Street with the other Worshipful Company finalists?

MB Well, I was honoured to have my name put forward by one of Musicians’ Company Jazz’s nominating Panel, fellow drummer Shaney Forbes. I knew that the gig is about presentation, teamwork and not about egos. I also knew that I had to simply “be me”. You can’t control an audience; or if you can, that’s not what I, or the gig was all about! I played no differently than I would on any other gig. I guess that the voting audience must have seen something in how I inter-reacted with the others and (so I’m told) supported the whole band.

LJN: Moving on to other things, why have you called the band you lead Exodus?

MB  “Exodus” is related to a journey, a venture or even a pilgrimage. It’s my contribution to the world. It’s an expression of a community’s journey – a creative community of various musicians.

I don’t even want my first EP to be a classic “here’s Moses’ first album (cheers!) with the clichéd launch-gig. No, my new EP is almost like a window into what has, and will be happening in my creative life.

LJN And you also work with (saxophonist) Binker Golding?

MB: Yes, he and I have a long-standing musical relationship. Binker plays Tenor and Soprano saxes and who knows, maybe we will do some duo recordings at some point in the near future. In the meantime, we are doing some good stuff with Zara McFarlane.

LJN: Moses, thanks for taking the time out from your schedule to do the interview.

MB My pleasure! See you at 229 TheVenue on Thursday 20th November. DETAILS / BOOKINGS

LINKS: Report of the 2014 WCoM Young Musician Award Final

Moses Boyd’s 2013 Tony Williams tribute

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